Northern Ireland

Fears grow Flipper the Foyle dolphin may have died

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Media captionDanny Hunter took this video or a dolphin or porpoise in the River Foyle

A dolphin that swam 30 miles inland up the River Foyle near Strabane is thought to have died.

Locals have been lining the river since Sunday to catch a glimpse of the stranded mammal.

It had been christened Flipper by people in Strabane.

But, on Wednesday, the creature appeared to have stopped moving and was being washed down the river towards Londonderry.

Strabane fisherman Danny Hunter first saw the dolphin at the weekend.

"It's turned over on its belly and it's washed all the way down towards Derry again," he said.

"I have never seen a dolphin in the Foyle before. It's a long way up. It actually came up in the last high tides way back on the 14th. It's been stranded in the river ever since.

"It's probably young and adventurous and went up the far side of the island, which is the back water, and came down the front water which is what all the activity has been going on."

Possible rescue

The angler thinks there might have been a chance to rescue the dolphin.

"It could have escaped today. The tides are building up," he said.

"We could possibly, with the proper equipment, have sweep-netted it and got it into a boat and run her down into the lough and let her go. We might learn something from that."

The Department of Environment has confirmed that it is investigating the incident.

"Locals have been watching this animal for the last week and were shocked to see it stranded, presumed dead, in a remote, inaccessible stretch of the river," the department said in a statement.

"DOE, assisted by the Loughs Agency, hope to access the animal later today and will arrange for a post-mortem if required."

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